A leaked draft NSW Marine Park Network Management plan has revealed that Jervis Bay Marine Park has been identified as a potential area for the cruise ship industry to expand.
According to the draft plan, the cruise ship industry is asking the NSW Government to identify sustainable cruise ship anchorages and that there are "opportunities to expand in Jervis Bay".
The plan lists Transport for NSW as the lead and Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Tourism NSW and Shoalhaven City Council as partners.
Independent MP Justin Field has slammed the plans over a lack of detail and community consultation.
"I believe Shoalhaven City Council has got a briefing on the proposal. But we don't know what the details are and this is the problem," he said.
"There's been absolutely no consultation with the community about this plan.
"I'm going to be asking direct questions to the government when parliament comes back next month about just how advanced these considerations are."
Mr Field said there were discussions with Shoalhaven City Council about potential options for "small" cruise ships that carry around 300 to anchor in Jervis Bay.
"It's all well and good to say small cruise ships, but when I look at these cruise ships that carry 300 people, we're still talking about vessels 100 meters long, 20 meters wide," he said.
"These are substantial vessels that need a lot of support on shore. These are small cruise ships, but still very big vessels."
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He believes expanding the cruise ship industry to Jervis Bay would bring little economic benefit to area.
"We need to be critically looking at any claims that this is about economic opportunities for the regions," said Mr Field.
"Cruise ships are famous for trying to keep all of the money that they can on the boat, whether it's the accommodation or the food or entertainment.
"The real economic basis of the region is the beautiful pristine environment of Jervis Bay and we should do anything to put that at risk."
Penny Davidson from the Keep Jervis Bay Unspoilt community group said she is most nervous about companies advertising cruise ships visiting Jervis Bay.
"Even though there's nothing on paper or nothing signed yet, what makes the community anxious is that there are cruise ships already advertising to come to Jervis Bay," she said.
"We're concerned there haven't been any scientific studies or management plans in place."
However, both South Coast MP Shelley Hancock and a spokesperson from DPI Fisheries confirmed that there have been no enquires from cruise ship providers.
"Regardless, I will never support cruise ships in Jervis Bay Marine Park," said Mrs Hancock in a tweet.
Too early for answers
Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said Shoalhaven City Council had been briefed by Destination NSW but that it was too early to make a decision about whether council supports the plan.
"The plans are up in the air at the moment so it's difficult to make a decision on whether you support it or not."
A spokeswoman from the Port Authority of NSW confirmed the plans were in their early stages and the community would be consulted if they are too move forward.
"The Australian Government's ban on cruise ships in Australia has been extended again until 17 September 2021," said the spokeswoman.
"The Port Authority is in early stages of talks about how the cruise industry might look when it returns.
"Community consultation will be carried out before any decisions are made."
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